Blog on the Bus pt64 (why I decided to kill Jack Vincent)

Good morning bus bloggers. Before I begin, I should warn you that this post contains spoilers. If you’ve not read but intend to read any of my work, please look away now and stop reading this post.

That’s better.

I feel troubled dear friend: there is a heaviness weighing on my mind and I feel the need to confess to you the real reason that I decided to kill off Detective Inspector Jack Vincent (in case it was troubling you too).

When I started writing Integration (my first formal foray with the written word), I wanted to create a conflict for my protagonist Mark Baines. Baines, as a character, was based very loosely on myself (write what you know, right?) and a lot of the views and emotions he felt were representative of my own. I tried to create a conflicting character that would get under my skin. Who better than the officer investigating Baines for the crimes he was blackmailed into committing?

In my head, D.I. Vincent’s physique (bald and with a ‘tash) was based on David Haig (the actor who played D.I. Derek Grim in Ben Elton’s tv series The Thin Blue Line). Bet you didn’t know that (In fact I’m curious to know how you did picture him?)! I didn’t want Vincent to be a figure of fun (not to the reader anyway). I wanted him to be a character who strived to do the right thing but inevitably got it wrong. All the time. I wanted the reader to dislike him; more for his misinterpretation of facts than anything specific he did.

When I published the story I felt pleased that he’d reached the level of dislike that I wanted.

When writing Remorse, I once again needed a police officer who would jump to the wrong conclusions and so I wheeled Vincent out once more. He delivered for me again.

When I started plotting Redemption, I had in the back of my mind that Vincent would appear but, as the majority of the plot was in London, his role would only be minor. But as I started to write his part in the final shootout at the hotel, something happened: a breakthrough.

I suddenly understood his motivation and emotional dexterity. As I wrote his farewell to Ali Jacobs I was filled with empathy for this man who had dedicated his life to striving for justice and failing more often than he succeeded.

As I started to write Snatched, I knew that this emotionally-enhanced Jack Vincent would end the story as an anti-hero, delivering unconventional justice for protagonist Sarah Jenson.

Some of you will remember that my fifth novel Shadow Line was originally called Dead Drop and only changed as a better-known author had released a story with the same title a month earlier. The original title had been a reference to a code word used by the Security Services but was also to hint at the end of Jack Vincent. But why did I decide he needed to go?

Simple: I’d grown to like him.

Jack Vincent was no longer a character that got under my skin and as such he no longer served a purpose in my writing.

He had to go.

Out of respect for this character I’d come to think of as a relative, I decided to give him an epic send off which was why he took the central role in Shadow Line (it was the least I could do).

But that left me with a void.

Who would replace DI Vincent, the only character to appear in each of my novels (and one of my short stories)? I couldn’t decide who or what I wanted to step into those size-9s. That’s why his position remains vacant in my forthcoming novel Trespass (which you’ll be able to read on 01 December – contain your excitement!)

The good news is: I’ve been interviewing several potential replacements (my imagination is an awesome place) and I can officially announce the position has been filled and D.I. Tony Hunt, one of Northumberland’s finest will make his debut in 2014’s Crosshairs, currently being written.

Anyway, I’ve taken up far too much of your time today. Until the next tie, happy reading!

Stephen

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Blog on the Bus pt 63 (I write, therefore I am)

Welcome aboard the world’s first (and possibly only bus blog) on what is yet another wet and windy day in Southampton. You know winter is approaching when you wake to condensation on the windows and your wife wearing a dressing gown to bed (well, I’m not made of money y’know!) I hope that you are sat somewhere warm, dry and comfortable for this morning’s insight into my depraved mind…

As I attempted to count sheep last night my mind wandered to my alleged writing career (I say alleged as it feels in a bit of a rut at the moment). There is an explosion of talent decimating the writing industry and I must admit it’s difficult to get one’s literary voice heard above the crowd. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you understand; for the reader it opens up avenues, plots and genres that would otherwise have remained unseen. What is currently occurring in the written world is what happened in the music industry a decade ago.

Do you remember when MySpace launched and suddenly potential performers (or would-be warblers) were suddenly given a platform to share their music with the world? The Arctic Monkeys were the trailblazers managing to secure a massive recording contract for their work when their single (I Bet You a Look Good on the Dance-floor) went to number-1. Other acts followed including Lily Allen. It opened up the music industry and stopped the big record companies from dictating what we should listen to. It has only been good for music. I mean, where would we be without this period in history? Probably stuck listening to Simon Cowell’s latest manufactured outfit (I’m not referring to his loud trousers).

Since Amazon opened its ebook doors to wannabe writers, all and sundry have come forward clamouring “read my book!” There are literally millions of books for readers to choose from (heck, 9 of them are mine!). No longer do potential authors need to send dozens of unsolicited manuscripts to literary agents, praying that the pimply work experience kid working in the mail room passes it on. Now it’s as easy as a few clicks of the mouse buttons and whoosh (!) you’re a published author.

I can’t deny publishing your first novel is a truly amazing experience and something that all writers should be proud of. In fact, I still get a warm feeling when I publish subsequent stories. But what sort of author am I? I mean, am I any good?

I don’t know.

I’ll probably never know!

In my three years writing, I’ve published 5 novels, 4 short stories and had work included in 2 short story anthologies (not bad for someone who works full time, has a wife, a daughter and a dog to care for). I’ve had some twenty thousand downloads in that time, which feels pretty good, but to date my work has received only 88 reviews (some good, some bad, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time). It leaves me still wondering: am I any good or should I pack it in?

It was this thought last night that had me thinking: what’s the difference between an Arsenal player and one who plays for Accrington Stanley (remember those milk ads in the eighties? Showing your age!)? They are both football players doing what they love. They both turn out for their team each week and give 100%. They are both thankful for the skills God gave them.

What’s the difference then?

One has honed their skills and now plays to a global audience. The other doesn’t.

The analogy won’t have escaped any indie authors on the bus today.

I’m not JK Rowling, John Grisham or Dan Brown.

I don’t receive an enormous fee from a publishing company to write.

I haven’t appeared on the NY Times bestsellers list (though I have been on Amazon’s twice!) and I’ve never been considered for the Booker Prize.

I am a writer though.

It’s a fact.

I have written books and published them. These books have been bought, read and enjoyed by many. I love writing and when I write I give 100%. I am thankful for the creativity I was born with.

I’m not in the Premier League of writers (well, not yet anyway!) but I am proud to call myself a writer.

Am I any good? As I said: I’ll probably never know. I am trying, however.

Until the next time, happy reading!

Stephen.

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. His novel Trespass is due out on 01 December. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 60 (infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me!)

Dear Bus Blogger, I am in a state of panic as my trembling fingers tap the screen of my iPhone. I received a letter today and the news…well, let’s just say…it’s not good!

I’m not dying, before you ask (I hope at least one of you asked!).

It’s worse…

It appears I (well, more accurately, my books) am being held accountable for the dip in tourism in Southampton!

I know, right? Unbelievable!

“Your stories, whilst thrilling and a bargain of a price (their words, not mine you understand) are painting Southampton as a city wracked with guns, crime and murder. So vivid and realistic are your stories (again, I’m quoting from the letter) that those reading them are being put off visiting the city. We politely request you start writing about somewhere where the crimes you describe actually exist. We suggest Portsmouth.”

You can understand my concern, dear reader. It is true that the stories I write are full of crime and thrills; for that I am guilty. But driving away would-be tourists, surely they realise I’m writing fiction!

To be honest, I’m an incy bit proud to be held in such high regard but I don’t want to end up in court for being born with an overactive imagination! I don’t think I’d last in prison…not with my boyish good looks (hey, stop laughing!)

So, dear reader, to keep the wolves from my back I’ve decided to do some positive publicity on behalf of the city where I live:

Southampton is a lovely place to visit. There is absolutely NO crime at all!

There. I’ve done it! In all honesty, Southampton (which has been my adopted home since 2000) is a lovely city and, if you’ve never been, I strongly recommend you come and visit it some day soon.

If, however, you’re looking for a city with a hidden criminal underbelly, where menaces lurk around every corner, then may I recommend you take a look at my novels (links are below as usual).

I better go. The bus is about to reach its destination and I can see blue flashing lights ahead of me. If you don’t hear from me again, it means I didn’t make it (probably my own fault for using a milk float as a getaway vehicle).

Until the next time, happy reading!

From the author formally known as Stephen.

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)

Blog on the Bus pt 59 (are the best things in life worth waiting for?)

Good day to you dear bus blog follower. Thank you for stopping by on this eerily misty October morning. The bus is decidedly full this morning but that’s always the way when it’s late. Sometimes I wonder why I wait…

Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to wait for things?

Imagine a world where all buses ran on time…all trains had a spare seat just for you…where you walk up to a bar and the drinks are already poured for you…just imagine (not you, Mr Bus Driver, just concentrate on the road! Phew, that was a close one!)

Believe it or not (those that know me will), I’m not a very patient man; it’s not one of my virtues. So when I’m forced to wait for something, I become…what’s the best word…angry (=impatient with attitude). I can’t help it: I’m programmed to behave this way.

I was the same as a child: I hated waiting for Christmas and birthdays (many a time I was disciplined for pre-present hunts!)

So when I’m forced to wait for things, I become stressed, tetchy, aggravated and unreasonable.

You can imagine, therefore, how I’m feeling at the moment: waiting for the purchase of a new house to complete. It’s strength-sapping and, I’m sure anyone who’s been in this boat before will know, there are no quick answers. We placed an offer on said property in July and here we are, 3-months later, no closer to moving in. Everything is signed at our end and monies have been transferred to our solicitors so why pray tell are we still sat around twiddling our thumbs? Your guess is as good as mine…

What’s worse is I cannot concentrate on writing, so if you’d like to read something new of mine in future, I implore you to pray to whatever force you follow that my waiting will soon be over…

Until the next time, happy reading,

Stephen

(Stephen is the author of Integration, Remorse, Redemption, Snatched and Shadow Line. Find his work here, here or via stephenedger.com)